Take Charlize Theron. Today, Celiac.com posted a story about how she thinks this “gluten free thing is bullshit”. She even referenced the study from last May that caused the snarkfest on gluten sensitivities to really explode.
Even at the Minnesota State Fair the last 9 nine days, I have had people come up to me and ask about the fad. Some even wanted me to convince them why they should go on the gluten free diet like everyone else…. In some cases it has been asked in a bit of a negative tone.
How do you handle this? Here are a few suggestions:
- Education. This one is always the best way to go. We had this experience a little bit when Emma was first diagnosed. It can take a while for family to warm up to the idea of a mandatory gluten-free diet. My mom and sister-in-law read Danna Korn’s book — one of the first of its kind out on the subject of kids and celiac. Dr. Alessio Fasano’s book called Gluten Freedom is another great option for education.
- Patience. With other members of my family I needed a little more patience. I continued to remind them about importance of my daughter maintaining the gluten-free diet. Yes, a little bit will hurt and No, she won’t grow out of celiac. Eventually those family members came around.
- Explain this is not being done because of a fad. There is a lot of eye rolling going around because some people believe it is a good weight loss tool. Servers and cooks at restaurants report working really hard at getting a gluten-free meal for customers, only to have them order a regular beer or piece of regular cake. The contradiction is frustrating for them. Explain to your friends and family you are doing it for medical reasons and why being gluten free makes you feel better.
- Invite naysayers to join you at a local seminar, community ed class or support group. Show your friends and family there are more people out there just like you. The community ed classes I teach have several students who are friends or family of a newly diagnosed gluten free eater. They want to better understand the diet.
- Bring them over for some food and drinks. Fix everything gluten free and then tell them afterward that it was all gluten-free. They may be surprised at all of the regular ol’ foods that can be made gluten free (potato canoes, steak kabobs, ice cream sundaes). Throw some gluten-free brownies in the oven, make up some BBQ meatballs, or something else fabulous and have folks over!
If you can avoid it, try not to get defensive (believe me, I know it is hard). I spoke to a lady today who said her father didn’t believe that she needed to be gluten-free. She said, “I asked him, ‘Do you think I want to spend this much money on food?'”. But frankly, I suppose there is a time and a place for a discussion like that.
I confess, when one relative continued to tell me that Emma would grow out of celiac disease, I did finally tell her to stop saying that to me and to Emma, because it would not happen. It was never mentioned again.
Do your best to practice patience with this topic. It is a hot one– both in popularity and in attitude. Good luck!